The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, October 1, 1999, Music

Owen Temple

Passing Through (El Paisano)

Owen Temple

General Store (El Paisano)

Small towns have a kind of stark, quiet beauty to them. Even after Wal-Marts move in and decimate Main Street, there's still a solemn dignity in those boarded up storefronts and dusty, ramshackle feed stores. Kerrville native Owen Temple writes about these places, as common to Texas as they are to Indiana or Alabama. Produced by steel mogul Lloyd Maines, these two albums are a good pair. It'd be easy enough to lump Temple in with Texas singer-songwriters like the Robison brothers and Robert Earl Keen, but he leans more toward country and away from the folk side of the equation. Maines has brought in some heavy hitters to the sessions, such as Terri Hendrix, Darcy Deville, Bukka Allen, Rich Brotherton, and John Inmon, with the results sounding down-to-earth and unpretentious. Of the two, Passing Through finds Temple hitting his stride lyrically and thematically, his voice free of country affectations, kind of like a younger Gary P. Nunn or Jerry Jeff Walker. Often with singer-songwriters, there's a trade-off involved where the execution can't match the songwriting, but Temple and Maines balance the two nicely and capture the lonesome-feel small-town scenarios. It's as familiar as a beat-up Martin D-28 guitar, as comfortable as a worn-out pair of jeans, and as evocative as a metal Texaco sign flapping in the breeze in front of a boarded-up gas station, storm clouds brewing in the distance.

(Passing Through) ***.5

(General Store) ***  

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